Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"Morristown" The Movie

“We don’t make anything in this country anymore. If they closed the ports, we’d be naked and barefoot.”
- Shirley Reinhardt, former GE worker, Morristown, TN

The quote comes from a new documentary about Morristown and immigration, currently making the rounds at festivals and is also now available on DVD. Filmmaker Anne Lewis spent years on the project, which examines how immigration has changed the city and the city has changed the immigrants.

Lewis began her career as an associate director on the Oscar-winning "Harlan County U.S.A." and has been actively exploriing the lives and the worlds of working men and women ever since. Some info about her is here and here, where she explains her creative vision as a documentary filmmaker.

The movie, "Morristown" is described as:

Working-class people in Mexico and eastern Tenessee are caught in the throes of massive economic change, which challenges their assumptions about work, family, nation and community. This film chronicles nearly a decade of change in Morristown, Tennessee through interviews with displaced or low-wage Southern workers, Mexican immigrants, and workers and families impacted by globalization."

A short clip can seen here via the Austin, TX university website.

The movie was made with the assistance from both the Highlander Center (where you can order a DVD copy of "Morristown Video Letters", an early spin off of the project) in New Market, TN and the Appalshop in Kentucky, where you can pre-order copies of the movie and should have them available for sale in the very near future. Thanks to Anne for the details about the availability of her film.

Part of the movie examines the recent efforts of workers at the Koch Foods chicken processing plant to form a union. Workers overwhelming approved the move to unionize and cameras take you into the plant to witness working conditions there.

And while the movie hasn't gotten much attention in Tennesssee, audiences from Albuquerque to Minnesota are watching the story unfold.

(photo taken from the movie, shows Alfredo and Silvia Perez and their children in Juarez, Mexico)


  1. Thanks for pointing this out, Joe. I wasn't aware of it, and really want to see it now.

  2. Anonymous6:45 PM

    Someone we know is going to shit a pineapple.

    This really looks good.

  3. I wrote the film maker Anne and thanked her many times. The changes I saw around there were very disturbing. Starting with my High school graduation year when my folks were screwed out of their three decade jobs and service pensions from Magnavox now known to me as Maggotbox (I always recommend any other brand than Phillips to anyone who ask).

    Not much worse in life than watching your 50 something parents scramble for new vocations at minimum wage while having to spend the kids college funds to survive. The raw greed that ate everyones life there really pissed me off.

    What am I complaining about there was always work at the chicken factory if you could live on illegal immigrant wages.

  4. Appalshop did the wonderful Jessco documentary. I loved that.

  5. Anonymous12:29 PM

    Okay, so the connection to the film/location/topic of discussion may not be immediately obvious, but if you can hang on to the end of this poem I wrote, you'll see it come together.

    As your next-door neighbor in Jefferson County, I couldn't resist passing it along. Bet you've seen a few of these, too.


    A huge multi-storied conveyance of doom
    Rumbles through the busy intersection

    Its occupants are remarkably oblivious
    Seemingly unfazed by this trip of a lifetime

    With no idea of what lies ahead
    They’re just along for the ride

    And what a ride it is: every mile brings marvels
    Never before seen in their short sheltered lives

    Gas stations, convenience stores, car washes
    They take it all in with a total lack of comprehension

    Sometimes you pull up alongside them
    When the big truck stops at a traffic light

    And you wonder what they’re thinking
    As they stare back at you with little yellow eyes

    “Is this some wonder-filled pleasure outing?”
    “Are we about to see the wide world?”

    But you know they have only a little farther to go
    To the huge processing plant a few miles east of here

    You know what they can’t yet know
    Their feathery ignorance shields them

    The worst is when it rains and they turn from white to dirty gray
    Huddled pathetically in silent sodden lumps of resignation

    So they sit in their little cages stacked one on top of the other
    Hurtling down the highway, chickens on their way to death